Whether you are building your brand or trying to drive conversations with clients, demonstrating your knowledge is critical for professional services organisations.
"Hero" content is recognised as one of the best ways of positioning the firm as an authority on a given subject. Google define it as "the big, tent-pole events & content that are designed to provide a massive step-change to your audience growth."
Industry reports and whitepapers are the cornerstones of most content strategies. They are painstakingly researched and immaculate in their presentation.
It's highly unlikely that an in-depth industry report gets found and goes viral. It's also highly likely that your competitors are doing similar reports and trying to build their brand share of voice.
Given the importance and the amount of effort involved, here are some tactics & tips to ensure that your next hero content is effective.
Understand the goal & how it is measured
Put quite simply, if you do not understand what you are trying to achieve or how you are measuring success it's impossible to know whether you've succeeded. Broadly, hero content usually has one of two goals.
- Build the brand of the firm within the target audience
- Start conversations with potential clients
Once you understand the goal, the next step is to work out how you are going to measure it. Goals such as the ones above can be measured by leading indicators such as audience saturation, downloads, visitor tracking & engagements. Lagging indicators such as deal contribution provide a less timely but arguably more valuable perspective.
As hero content is about driving audience growth, one very important way to measure your impact is whether or not those people are subscribing to receive relevant insights from you.
Your metrics need to be understood by the rest of the business you are reporting to and ideally agreed at the beginning of the campaign. Most importantly, your goals and metrics need to be valued by the firm.
We talk more about this in Episode 20 of the Passle Podcast with Barney O'Kelly
Build internal awareness of your piece
Check your corporate social media channel and see how many followers it has. Now, look at your own personal network and the network of your peers. You'll notice something.
Your firm and almost all companies have a far smaller audience, engagement and reader trust than the network of people that work there. To put that another way, if just a few of your colleagues share your insights they'll reach more of the people that matter.
The best way to reach the networks of the people you work with
- When your campaign is launched, send an email internally
- Use pictures rather than text
- Use simple language and pull out some short talking points
- Highlight how to share the content, demonstrate share buttons
- Make sharing easy with opengraph tags on images and text
- Send good news about the campaign and include share links
- If key clients and prospects engage, celebrate the sharers
Encourage sharing on social media and directly through email. Do not underestimate the reach of the people you work with, they are connected to their clients, previous colleagues and a sizeable chunk of the people you want to reach.
Help your people understand why sharing is important, make it as easy as possible, remind them multiple times and most importantly, celebrate the successes you have.
Package content for communication
According to the Edelman Thought Leadership Impact Report 2020 audiences want three elements in their content.
- Thoughtful, substantive content that adds value
- Timely, current content relevant to an issue they face now
- Easily digestible content that can be consumed easily
Hero content hits the mark on the first point, but needs a little help with the last two. If you want your audience (or your own firm) to read your content and share it with others in your target audience you need to make it timely and digestible.
Break your report down into talking points, relate these to the issues your clients face and share these shorter takeaways with a link to the main content piece. These can be done simply as a podcast with the author that can be chopped up into smaller segments.
Equally, each talking point could be discussed by an expert at your firm as a short post with a relevant image for sharing attached. Whatever you do, given the effort that goes into producing a hero piece demands a concerted effort to promote it with more "viral friendly" supporting content.
Keep these breakdowns short, it should take less than a couple of minutes to consume for your audience and pique their interest in your main content piece.
Hero content is excellent at building a brand and audience. But far to often the effort is put entirely into the content, with little to no budget for the distribution.
There are no hard and fast rules about where and how to advertise. Your audience will dictate which platform and format work best. From our own advertising I can make two suggestions.
- Keep your ads simple and editable,
- Use the short, digestible content mentioned above
- Measure and tune your ads, test multiple creatives
- Be very tight and targeted with your audience
- Share news of the successes this advertising has had with your firm
Capturing long term value
High-value deals do not come from someone downloading one report, contacting your firm and buying. They come from a buyer building a relationship with your firm based on trust and expertise.
If you can capture those people that are engaging with a subscription tool and deliver them regular, valuable expertise in a timely and digestible way - you will help build that relationship.
Where hero content contributes is in the first instance in getting your firm on the radar of the people that count - capturing long term value from the lead depends on your abilility to capture those details and deliver that expertise long term.